Chinese Vegetables

It could have been a flower

It could have been a flower

I think bok choy is just a beautiful thing. I went to the Chinese Supermarket to buy Chinese Five Spice and I found fresh bok choy and white Chinese radish. I have never cooked with either.  Technically bok choy is part of the cabbage family but does not taste like cabbage at all. I should have bought two to keep one as decoration-just so pretty. I did a bit of reading up and a lot of the fried cabbage dishes also contain garlic and ginger and I already had those in the Asian meatballs I was making and did not want to repeat them again with the vegetables. image Trim the bok choy stem, separate the leaves and rinse. I also halved the bigger leaves to have them evenly sized. image Heat up a pan/wok with a bit of peanut oil and add soy sauce to the hot oil just before you add the vegetables, flash fry the leaves and toss fast. I find that tongs work the best. Do that for about 30 seconds and then add a splash of water to create steam and cover the pan. Steam for about 3 minutes and turn it over with the tongs in between. Add another splash of water if necessary to create steam. Plate and season with salt and a drizzle of peanut oil.image Let me tell you it tastes great. I also used half of the Chinese radish to stir fry with carrots and baby cabbage and the other I pickled.

Asian meat balls and stirfry

Asian meat balls and stirfry

Random photo:

Art

Man

Man

 

Eisbein and Rhubarb Epic

I grew up in a home where nothing was boiled and never did meat touch water in the cooking process, ever. I bought lovely smoked Eisbein and all the recipes I found wanted me to boil the meat first for a few hours before roasting it. No, not in this here house. This particular cut of the pork shank is of German origin and can be fresh but is usually pickled or smoked.

Roast Eisbein and baked apples

Roast Eisbein and baked apples

The name however is Nordic in origin and means “pork knuckle” . In Swedish it is Islaeggor and in Norwegian it is called Islegg. Directly translated into my Afrikaans home language therefor: Ysbeen! The interesting part is that it has nothing to do with the “Ysbeen” in our bodies, but the name stuck because they used to make ice skates of the knuckle bone in the Nordic countries. There you have it!

So upwards and onwards and hell bent on not boiling anything and definitely not my smoked Eisbeins, I googled and found the passionate blog of The Rider who also did not boil his meat but instead did a barbeque and smoked it in a Webber. We corresponded and food friends made, I told him smoking and Webbers are out of the question as it is not going to go down well in an apartment block where no such shenanigans will be allowed. The poor man was having a gall stone attack at the other end of the country after his indulgences with the exact same Eisbein culprit went too far for his doctor’s liking (oh what we would do for good food…). I hope he is alive and well and firing up the Webber again as we speak.

Investigations done, I  found a recipe for pork fillet by Jamie Oliver which he combined with rhubarb of all things and I had rhubarb in my fridge!

Preparation: I formed a bed of onion, garlic and rhubarb. No water no oil no nothing, the meat has enough fat and juices.

Tucked in on a bed of rhubarb

Tucked in on a bed of rhubarb

Oven: The Eisbeins went into the oven, covered with foil. Bake it at low heat (140 C) for 3.5 hours. I added carrots towards the end. Roast : remove foil and roast for another hour or however long you want on n higher heat or if you do not have another hour, grill it at high heat until you have hard crackling. Be around and look often if on a high heat so you do not overdo the roasting and burn the crackling part.

Eisbein & roast veg

Eisbein & roast veg

In other words, take your merry time on a Sunday or whenever because it is so worth it. No need to boil anything and the meat was soft and juicy. The rhubarb with smoked pork is an absolute winner, it has the same tartness as the baked apple. Next time I will put in the rhubarb much later as mine disintegrated into a sauce ( nice) but lost its pink colour and I am all about colour as we know.

imageI served it with baked apple slices and pickled radishes instead of the normal sauerkraut.

Baked Apples: Place sliced and cored apple on a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil and butter and bake till you have a soft apple.

Random Photos:

I miss Europe. Do I feel a trip comming on…..?

Mont Martre, Paris

Montmartre, Paris

Walk- about

Walk- about

PICKLED PINK

Aside

Pickled Radishes

Pickled Radishes

I always wondered how the contestants on Master Chef could pickle all they pickle within one hour. I thought pickles had to sit pretty in brine or whatever for weeks to be just right .Well I was wrong. No suprise that I was wrong on that score as I only for the first time preserved guavas a year ago after putting it off for half of my natural life, because yet again I thought it would take lots of time and effort, which it did not.

Today I made a bon voyage lunch for my sister and her husband who is going for a week of 5 star holiday in Mauritius, awful I know….If she loved me she would have taken me with. Another first for me was to make Eisbein which is a robust German dish of smoked pork knuckle and which deserves a blog on its own. I did not have sauerkraut and wanted some pickles to go with the obligatory mustard and veggies for the Eisbein feast.

No hard work for these pickles

No hard work for these pickles

A bunch of big fat radishes lying around in the fridge ended up being just the thing to pickle and low and behold, ready in 10 minutes. I bought a bottle of Verjus which I have never tried before (a lot of firsts being tried out here!) and the label says:: “use instead of lemon juice or vinegar”, perfect for the radishes.image

Mix the following:

1 cup Verjus/Vinegar of your choice

1/2 a cup water

2t salt

2 T honey(I used ginger infused honey)

A bunch radishes sliced thinly

3 cloves garlic

Pickled Pink!

Pickled Pink!

Cook the first 4 ingredients for 2 minutes in the microwave or warm up on the stove top. Add the radishes and garlic to the liquid(do not cook again, the heat is just to melt the honey) and leave to cool down. Taste the liquid and adjust the sweetness if you have to. 10 minutes later you have pickled radishes! Pretty and pink. I will definitely use Verjus again, I like the gentle taste of it and can think of a lot of ways to enhance food with my newfound bottle of joy. If I do not have ginger honey, I will definitely add ginger to the normal ingredients as it just took it to another layer of taste.

Random Photo:

Miss you Tara! Starbucks all the way from Ulsan, South Korea.

My Tara to the right, Jeanri to the left.

My Tara to the right, Jeanri to the left.

 

Floating Islands in the Mist?

Aside

In the mist-Cape Town

In the mist-Cape Town

On a scale of weirdness these past two months were just that, weird. I did not travel(by plane) for two months. First time in eight years. I am a commuter and work in two cities. One where my whole heart lies and where I live and the other where I need to be to do what I do. My body and mind is so used to leaving on a jet plane that at first I was at a loss as to why I felt between two worlds, as if I needed to be somewhere where I am not. The broken up weeks of the past two months with public holidays, Easter Weekend and Workers Day added to the stop-start, stop-start of normal routines. A bit like floating around in the mist really. At least I spent quality time with good people and great mini road trips in between. Just as sudden as this small hiatus started, it stopped and I am on my way again. More sudden is winter that descended with a vengeance and is now here to stay. Good soups, curries and pot pies come to mind!

Walking, walking, walking in Paris a year ago.

Walking, walking, walking in Paris a year ago.

It is now a year since I visited my friend OddlylivinginParis and I miss the walking,walking and talking, talking with her (not to mention the eating-eating…) and sitting in front of her picture perfect Parisian window putting the world to rights! Her written piece on “hands” make me weak in the knees, so beautiful.

Odette's view

Odette’s view

The floating island dessert I made and blogged on my return needs a re-mention to celebrate remembrance.

Oeufs a la Neige/Floating Islands

Oeufs a la Neige/Floating Islands

It is to remember and celebrate mothers passed, mothers around me, sisters near and far and children of my heart. One so far and one so near. Happy Mothers Day.

Thank you Boxofrecipes and lapetitartichaut with their lovely blogs for the rewards, much appreciated. This dessert is also for you!

Random Photo:

Very quirky upside down, inside out display in Paris. I like!

Upside down, inside out!

Upside down, inside out!

Breakfast Ring

 

Cape Malay Pickled Fish

Cape Malay Pickled Fish

One of our very traditional South African Foods is Curried Pickled Fish, made either with battered Hake or Yellow Tail and pickled with the gentle and aromatic Cape Malay spices. There are loads of recipes on the internet for this and I will not post it as I bought mine this time around. Luckily we get this year round and we certainly do not only eat it as a starter or main, but also for breakfast as we did this Easter.

Ardmore Ceramics

Ardmore Ceramics

It is usually served cold and has a sort of sweet, curried-pickled taste and goes well with anything savoury. I did not feel like the usual bacon, egg and toast so I rolled everything I liked into a phyllo pastry ring and we brunched to hearts content.

Preparations

Preparations

Really not rocket science this one as you can use any filling you like, sweet or savoury.

I used:

left over spinach salad

camembert cheese

a tub of chunky cottage cheese

chopped walnuts

chopped gherkins

boiled eggs

brush each phyllo sheet with butter( I used 4 sheets as the filling was quite heavy)

bake at 180 C until golden

Breakfast Ring

Breakfast Ring

Breakfast/ brunch on a long weekend is the best, it can go on forever and no reason not to have it in your pajamas I say!

Curried Fish

Curried Fish

Our recent weekend road trip was to the Stellenbosch Winelands. These lavender fields are on the way to Jordan Wines.

Lavender on the way to Jordan Wines

Lavender on the way to Jordan Wines

And just look at this stunning, stunning table at De Morgenson wine tasting room, what I would give for a kitchen big enough to hold a table just like that….

Dream on

Dream on

Random Photo:

Our wild animal (Jack) is really taking over our lives….

So wild

So wild

Very happy wild animal indeed.

Jack, wild, wild animal....

Jack, wild, wild animal….

 

All things Red

Baked figs and Blue cheese

Baked figs and Blue cheese

I am still in my red phase, or fig phase, don’t know which, which started with the red Afghan carpet I bought. I need very visually stimulating food and things around me and that is not a phase, it is just how it is.

I just put the blue cheese in the sliced figs with a sprig of thyme and baked at 180 until soft and gooyy. Green grapes and baked figs made a great salad in what is a hot summer in Cape Town.

Baked figs and ice cold green grapes

Baked figs and ice cold green grapes

Red post or not, this blue fig one will go to the Cheese, Please! April challenge featuring the blues.

Cheese Please!Blog Challenge

Cheese Please!Blog Challenge

We are doing short over-night road trips over weekends to the wine farms and surrounds to clear the brain and I always pick up fresh produce and cheeses along the way. I wish we had time for a longer break but alas, it will not happen now.

Ataraxia Wine Farm, Hemel&Aarde Valley

Ataraxia Wine Farm, Hemel&Aarde Valley

Figs will always remind me of the huge fig tree in front of our house when I started my school years in George, Eastern Cape. There was often a big juicy red fig in my packed lunch, which even then I could not wait to get my teeth into. Strange if you think that others had sweets or crisps and I wanted fruit, strange kid indeed. I am still strange, come to think of it.

Figs, Feta & Capers

Figs, Feta & Capers

This fig salad was made with baby spinach, sun-dried tomato feta and capers(my latest craze).

Baked Ricotta&Beetroot Pots

Baked Ricotta&Beetroot Pots

The funny red concoction happened when I adjusted my baked Ricotta Vegetable Pots Recipe to make baked beetroot and ricotta pots. Dark, deep red. Oh, and of course I added vintage cheddar to the beetroot mix. Great combination. Instead of pouring the ricotta mix over oven baked beetroot(drizzled with balsamic cream), I mixed the beetroot and ricotta mix with added vintage cheddar in a mixer to form a paste and then baked it in individual ramekins. Do NOT forget to put the lid on the mixer…ahem…uh, okay it took very long to clean the kitchen……

Random Photo:

Good night Cape Town

Lion's Head Cape Town

Lion’s Head Cape Town

A Citrus Cake and Thank You’s

image I really only bake a cake every few years and I baked this one to prevent myself from going to jail for a serious crime. I like baking but food is more my thing, I am not exact when cooking and the exactness of baking is what gets to me. I moved office this past week, just from one end of a building to the other end of the same building and it was an epic mess. Everything was planned to a T and then derailed. The painters were late, which held up a whole string of events, like actually moving over, which moving eventually had to proceed even with the wet paint on the walls and the paint fumes in the air. The telephone lines were switched over to the new bigger space, so that the IT people could co-ordinate with the cabling people to get the WiFipeople and computer server people to do what they needed to do to get my office up and running and it worked. Only for a split second. Between moving Day 1 and @&$)@&$&: moving Day 2, the telephone lines just died. There we were, half in and half out and no connectivity and now indication from the service provider when and where a technician will grace us with his presence to fix the lot. We unpacked whatever we could, I sent the staff home and literally sat and watched the paint dry, hung on walls what needed to be up there unpacked again, reshuffled and can still not work at the office-NO CONNECTIVITY.

Proof that I baked it myself

Proof that I baked it myself

That is when I started baking. To fix my muddled brain with a bit of exactness and to prevent me from killing someone, a painter, a cabling man, an IT person or  whoever was unlucky enough to be close by. Between aforesaid moving Day 1 and  @&$$)$)()5;()&  moving Day 2 (and pardon for repeating myself, but moving Day 2 should never have been a moving day if it was not for the for THE PAINter people !) , I could of course not sleep and fantasized about the Italian Orange Cake posted by Chef Mimi. So that is what I baked this weekend as a thank you to my husband, my sister and brother-in-law who helped me through this epic mess.I deviated slightly from the original recipe by using buttermilk instead of milk and made a frosting with cream cheese.

Italian Orange Cake

Italian Orange Cake

For cake ingredients and method, see Italian Orange Cake posted by Chef Mimi (and thank you for keeping me out of jail) and the cream cheese frosting I made as follows:

Mix together until smooth:

1/2 cup unsalted butter

1 cup icing sugar(confectioners’ sugar)

1 cup cream cheese

1 t vanilla extract( I replaced it with a teaspoon of orange blossom extract)

I want my cake and eat it

I want my cake and eat it

Thank you also to fellow bloggers bakering , mrschoux  and polianthus for the nominations, this cake is also for you! I am better at asking questions than answering them so I will rather present this cake to you as a token of appreciation.

Random Photo:

Another kitch but stunning Cape Town sunset to keep me sane for a little longer.

image

Fig and Blue Cheese Parcels

I bought a new Afghan carpet. A red one, which promptly made me think of red food of course, as carpets do….

Fig&Blue Cheese Parcels

Fig&Blue Cheese Parcels

The fig parcel is similar to a starter I had at Weltevreden Estate with its beautiful Cape Dutch Manor House and clever chef, but I love it as a dessert or to serve instead of an after dinner cheese plate.

Red figs&green preserved figs

Red figs&green preserved figs

Chop fresh red figs and a few preserved green figs.

Prepare phyllo sheets by brushing with melted butter.

Add chunky bits of blue cheese and form parcels. I used Blue Rock from Fairview wine&cheese Farm in the Paarl Winelands. I also added a small dollop of cream cheese but it is not really necessary if you don’t feel like it.

Bake at 180C until crispy and eat warm or cold, on its own, as a starter or dessert or just because you have to celebrate a new carpet. (Who needs an excuse).

The blue cheese featuring this month on the Cheese, Please! Blog Challenge really fits right into my everyday life and the love of the blues!

Cheese Please!Blog Challenge

Cheese Please!Blog Challenge

Oozing Blues

Oozing Blues

After the pretty cheese parcels I had a red dessert as well, just to stay in theme, eaten on my red carpet as it should. Strawberry compote (strawberries stewed in castor sugar) made into a jelly with gelatine leaves topped with strawberry cream. The dessert idea came from the light mousses blogged by Bakering and I will still try the lemon one for sure (or maybe I should buy a yellow carpet first…).

Dessert on Afghan!

Dessert on Afghan!

Very befitting to the carpet theme, the flowers I bought at the market the previous week, opened in all their glory. They stayed on the table and did not end up on the red carpet as well.

In all its glory

In all its glory

Random photo:

My two “Peace in the Home” are happy just where they are, unlike my purple African Violet that is unhappy in every “best spot” I place them.

Peace in the Home in Ardmore pots

Peace in the Home in Ardmore pots

Ricotta vegetable pots

Ricotta vegetable pot

Ricotta vegetable pot

I still can’t believe how easy it is, but I made ricotta cheese. Who would’ve thought! I always buy the stuff but when the March Cheese Please Challenge came along and I saw that ricotta is the Belle of the Cheese Ball in this round, I thought smugly, that’s easy! I use ricotta all the time. Until I read that I had to make it myself……and of course I can’t do THAT,  I have no “cheese making things” in my house. Sulking, I just fast read through the challenge and then saw how easy it is……..Still, there is always a possibility that I can bugger up an easy thing but alas, smooth, smooooothly it went and now you are talking to a cheese maker. A proper ricotta cheesemongermaker person! ( okay, not monger but still…).

Tools of the trade of a proper ricotta cheese maker person

Tools of the trade of a proper ricotta cheese maker person

I do not even have a muslin cloth so I had to borrow one from nowathome. The rest as they say, is history. Of course we shall eat ricotta now in and on everything just because!

Bring 1 liter of full cream milk to the boil and add the juice of one lemon. That is about the sum total of the most difficult part of the process……

Watch intently for 10 minutes because you are cheese proud, very

Watch intently for 10 minutes because you are cheese proud, very

With huge flair (because you are a successful ricotta maker now), gather the family together to watch as you drain the whey in a colander, lined with a borrowed muslin cloth and give or take 15 minutes later,  gather the cheese together and lightly squeeze to drain  the excess fluid. Seal in an airtight container until use. Huh, WHO would’ve thought?! Remember to go back to the fridge at least three times to stare at your cheese creation in wonder. I shall now change my middle name to ricotta, I am so chuffed!

image

What to do for the veggie pots: image Grease ramekins and fill with cooked vegetables of your choice. Use 1 cup of ricotta, two eggs, and one cup of cheese mixed together and salted to taste, to pour over the vegetables. Top with more grated cheese and paprika and bake at 180 C until set and golden.It also works well as a quiche filling/for baked spinach tart.

Cheesy!

Cheesy!

Random photo: 

On a recent business trip I was offered a room upgrade as the TV (which I don’t watch) and the WIFI (which I do need) did not work in the room I booked. Look what waited for me…….friendly people indeed. I ever so politely accepted their offer.

Morrell's Farm House Suite

Morrells Farm House Suite

Butternut and Fried Haloumi Stack

I had this very interesting meal at an open air restaurant in Hermanus recently. Kebabs on a nifty table top barbecue thingy which I wish I owned, with a butternut stack side dish.

Restaurant meal with nifty Coal BBQ gadget

Restaurant meal with nifty Coal BBQ gadget

Nevertheless, I had to recreate the butternut and haloumi stack at least, seeing that I am not allowed to do a table barbecue in an apartment…..

Butternut disks

Butternut disks

I simply cut the butternut in disks and fried it with pumpkin spice in butter.

Lovely Haloumi

Lovely Haloumi

The haloumi can be baked but I dusted the cheese with flour and fried it in shallow oil. Do not over fry as you will end up with rubbery cheese.

Stack the lot!

Stack the lot!

Stack the lot and top with fresh rocket and drizzle with lemon juice. Lovely with anything or lovely on its own!

My version of the stack with chicken trinchado

My version of the stack with chicken trinchado

Random Photo:

My blues!

My blues!

My sister blogged about the Milnerton Market on nowathome and we walked (and talked) the market from top to bottom last weekend. Of course I had to add to my collection(s) by descending on the white and blue table. Very happy with my loot!

Miniature porcelain flowers

Miniature porcelain flowers